"A thief, a junkie I've been / committed every known sin," Miguel Pinero sings in "A Lower East Side Poem." Part observer, part participant in the turbulent goings-on in his Nuyorican barrio, Miguel Pinero blasted onto the literary scene and made waves in the artistic current with his dramatic interpretations of the world around him through experimental poetry, prose, and plays.
Portrayed by actor Benjamin Bratt in the 2001 feature film Pinero, the poet's works are as rough and gritty as the New York City underworld he wrote about and loved. "So here I am, look at me / I stand proud as you can see / pleased to be from the Lower East / a street fighting man / a problem of this land / I am the Philosopher of the Criminal Mind / a dweller of prison time / a cancer of Rockefeller's ghettocide / this concrete tomb is my home." His depictions of pimp bars, drug addiction, petty crime, prison culture and outlaw life all drawn from first-hand experience astound the faint-hearted, as Pinero poetizes an outlaw vernacular meant to shock proper, bourgeois culture.
This long-awaited collection includes previously published and never-before-published poems; ten plays, including Short Eyes, which was later made into a film and won the 1973-1974 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play, The Sun Always Shines for the Cool, and Eulogy for a Small Time Thief.
A co-founder of the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, Pinero died at the age of 41, leaving behind a compelling legacy of poetry and plays that reveal the harsh, impoverished lives of his urban Puerto Rican community.
Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award
This powerful drama of prison life is set in a house of detention where a group of young convicts-predominantly black and Puerto Rican-taunt, fight, insult, and entertain one another in an attempt to preserve their sanity and to create a semblance of community. When a young white prisoner accused of child molesting is thrown into the cell block by a guard who says he belongs in Sing Sing because "the men up there konw what to do with degenerates like you," the stage is set for an explosive series of events; for, among prisoners, this child molester called "short eyes" is the lowest of criminals.